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Cystic fibrosis survivor gets second miracle, thanks to twin

Kate Backhouse looks through her wedding album as she gets ready for the next step in life, having a baby with her husband. Kate, who lives with cystic fibrosis, has a twin sister Brooke who has offered to be her surrogate for the pregnancy. Photo Lisa Benoit / The Morning Bulletin
Kate Backhouse looks through her wedding album as she gets ready for the next step in life, having a baby with her husband. Kate, who lives with cystic fibrosis, has a twin sister Brooke who has offered to be her surrogate for the pregnancy. Photo Lisa Benoit / The Morning Bulletin Lisa Benoit

AS KATE Backhouse walks the fine line between life and death, her twin sister Brooke Brandon is never far away.

The 33-year-old Rockhampton women share a bond that goes beyond family ties.

Kate spent most of her childhood and adolescence in Brisbane Children's Hospital fighting the lung destroying infections that characterise cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis is genetic, with one in four children of gene carriers likely to be born with the disease.

It causes serious lung infections which permanently damage the delicate tissue, diabetes and problems with the pancreas and liver.

Many CF sufferers will die before they are 40 if they do not get a lung transplant.

"From when I was born until I was 25, I was in hospital every eight weeks," Kate said.

"It was just how my life was. I didn't have to adapt - I was just used to it."

Kate's father died when she was seven, so her mother was often unable to be by her bedside during the hospital stays.

And the illness meant she didn't finish school.

Nine years ago, an organ donor's death gave her the chance to live a relatively healthy life.

"I've written the donor's family a couple of letters.

"I'm really grateful - when I write to them I tell them what I'm doing and how my life has changed so much."

Since the organ transplant, Kate has completed senior school and now holds a university degree.

Today the naturopath and her husband John are looking forward to something that once seemed impossible - parenthood.

And that's a dream sister Brooke will help make come true.

"We're doing IVF in July," Kate said. "If I can't carry the baby, Brooke will be my surrogate - she's always said she'd do it."

Brooke and her husband Todd have two children - two-year-old Rose and four-year-old Belle.

She said she was excited to help her sister become a mother.

"She is someone who is very special to me and I know what an amazing experience it is having children," Brooke said.

"I'd like to give her the opportunity to go through that."

CYSTIC FIBROSIS

The major condition is a problem with the protein that controls the movement of salt in and out of the cells.

Too much salt causes mucus to become thick and sticky and to build up in the lungs, clogging the air passages in the lungs and trapping bacteria.

Source: Cystic Fibrosis Queensland.

Topics:  cystic fibrosis ivf organ donation surrogate twins



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